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Israeli settlements not obstacle to peace: Trump adviser

Press TV – November 10, 2016

US President-elect Donald Trump does not think the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories should be condemned because they don’t pose “an obstacle to peace,” according to a top Trump adviser.

The comments were made on Thursday by Jason Greenblatt, the chief legal officer and executive vice president at the Trump Organization. He has been tapped by Trump as his top adviser on Israel.

Greenblatt’s comments would mark a stark departure from the long-time Washington stance that Israeli settlement construction in occupied Palestinian lands makes it more difficult to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

An Israeli minister called for renewed settlement expansions after Greenblatt’s comments. Israeli Science Minister Ofir Akunis said Tel Aviv thinks it’s time to move forward with more settlements now that Trump has won the US presidency.

The administration of US President Barack Obama has repeatedly criticized Israel over the settlement expansions, saying they make it difficult for Israel to reach peace with Palestinians.

The US and Israel are close allies but relations were often tense between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Israeli settlements and the nuclear agreement with Iran last year.

Analysts say a Trump presidency may be profoundly negative for Palestinian aspirations while buoying Israel’s confidence.

Under the Trump presidency, analysts expect there to be less pressure from Washington to halt illegal Israeli settlement building, meaning the settler population will grow unchecked.

“The Palestinian people hold no hope that the change of American president will mean a change in policy towards the Palestinian cause,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “That policy is constant and biased in favor of Israel’s occupation.”

Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign assistance since World War II. America’s military assistance to Israel has amounted to $124.3 billion since it began in 1962, according to a recent congressional report.

November 10, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

‘Thousands of Syrians, Iraqis Killed in US Airstrikes Over Past Year’

Sputnik – 10.11.2016

Thousands of Syrian and Iraqi civilians have been killed in US airstrikes over the past year, a source in the Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday.

The statement was made in response to the statement by US Central Command spokesman Col. John Thomas that 64 people were killed and eight wounded in US airstrikes in Syria and Iraq in November 2015 — September 2016.

“Listening to such statements from the US Central Command spokesman, we have an impression that the Pentagon does not consider the remaining thousands of Syrian and Iraqi civilians killed in US Air Force strikes to be humans. But even such an advanced stage of dishonesty and cynicism of US colleagues should have its limits,” the Russian source said.

The statement noted that US Air Force has been conducting up to 20 strikes per day in Syria and Iraq, or about 7300 strikes in the past year.

“Moreover, a significant part of this ‘work’ has been assigned to the B-1B to the B-52H bombers, while the ‘humanity’ and ‘accuracy’ of their carpet bombings are well known since the days of the Vietnam War,” the statement added.

The US-led coalition of more than 60 nations has been conducting its anti-terror aerial campaign in Syria and Iraq since 2014. The strikes in Syria have not been authorized by Damascus or the UN Security Council.

November 10, 2016 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

What Happened In This Election?

By John Chuckman | Aletho News | November 10, 2016

Brushing away the extreme claims and rhetoric of much election analysis, there are some observations which deserve attention. These unfortunately mostly provide hard lessons and not a lot of encouragement for people who hold to principles of democracy, enlightenment, and progressivity.

The election demonstrated perhaps better than ever, and better than has generally been recognized, that American is, indeed, a plutocracy. It took a genuine American Oligarch, a multi-billionaire, a man with a lifetime’s economic empire-building, to defeat a family which could provide the very definition of being politically well-connected, a family which had laboriously constructed and carefully maintained a kind of deep well ever-flowing with money for their ambitions.

It was the ever-flowing well of money, drilled by Bill Clinton with help from some extremely shady friends, such as Jeffrey Epstein, that made the Clintons keystone establishment figures in the Democratic Party. It was not personal charm or exceptional political generalship – although Bill, in his heyday, displayed some of both of those – that earned the Clintons their place, it was the money, the “mother’s milk of politics.” In what is euphemistically called “fund raising,” many hundreds of millions of dollars were provided for the party over the last couple of decades by Bill Clinton’s efforts.

Hillary fully appreciated the fact that money buys power and influence. She lacked Bill’s superficial charm, but she certainly more than shared his ambition. On the charm front, when she was ready to move into running for office, she adopted, perhaps under Bill’s tutelage, a kind of forced clown face with arched eyebrows, bugged-out eyes, and a smile as big as her lips would allow, and these expressions were accompanied by little gestures such as briefly pointing to various on-lookers or waving helter-skelter whenever she campaigned.

Her gestures reminded me of something you might see atop a float in a Christmas Parade or of the late Harpo Marx at his most exuberant. These were not natural for her. They were never in evidence years ago when she spent years as a kind of bizarre executive housewife, both in a governor’s mansion and later in the White House, bizarre because she indulged her husband’s non-stop predatory sexual behavior in exchange for the immense power it conferred on her behind the scenes over her far more out-going and successful politician-husband.

Anyway, Hillary knew that gestures and simulated charm do not get you far in American politics. She determined to build a political war chest long ago, and there are many indications over the years of her working towards this end of making this or that change in expressed view, as when running for the Senate, when sources of big money suggested another view would be more acceptable. She was anything but constant in the views she embraced because when she ran for the Senate she spent record amounts of money, embarrassingly large amounts.

In her years of speaking engagements, she aimed at special interests who could supply potentially far more money than just exorbitant speaking fees. Later, in the influential, appointed post of Secretary of State – coming, as it does, into personal contact with every head of government or moneyed, big-time international schemer – she unquestionably played an aggressive “pay for play” with them all. Covering up that embarrassing and illegal fact is what the private servers and unauthorized smart phones were all about.

A second big fact of the election is that both major American political parties are rather sick and fading. The Republican Party has been broken for a very long time. It hobbled along for some decades with the help of various gimmicks, hoping to expand its constituency with rubbish like “family values,” public prayer and catering to the Christian Right, and anti-flag burning Constitutional amendments, and now it is truly out of gas. That is precisely why a political outsider like Oligarch Trump could manage to hi-jack the party.

He was opposed by tired, boring men like Jeb Bush, seeking to secure an almost inherited presidency, and a dark, intensely unlikable, phony Christian fundamentalist like Ted Cruz, and it proved to be no contest. It was a remarkable political achievement, but I think it was only possible given the sorry state of the party.

The Republican Party had been given a breather, some new life, by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. He had an extremely mixed record as President, but he was popular, held in some affection, and did have a clear vision, but his effect on the party was not lasting. Trump could be seen as another Reagan, but I think the comparison is superficial. Trump literally hi-jacked the party, and he was not deliriously crowned by its establishment.

The Republican Party itself was formed not long before Abraham Lincoln’s candidacy out of the remains of worn out and collapsed predecessors, including the Whigs and Free-Soil Democrats. Parties do not last forever, and here was Trump creating something of a minor political revolution inside a tired and fairly directionless old party, a phenomenon which I do not think was sufficiently noticed.

The press was too busy attacking him from the start to take notice or do any intelligent analysis, and he was attacked precisely for the potential damage to the establishment he represented. His most promising quality is his potential for creating a new coalition of interests and one excluding the continuation of the Neocon Wars Hillary vigorously embraced and would expand.

But the Democratic Party is in serious trouble, too. It has a great deal of internal rot, as the Wiki-Leaks material from the DNC clearly shows us. Arrogance, lack of direction, ignorance of the people it has always claimed to serve, bad decision-making, and the absolute prostrate worship of money are the major symptoms.

It would have been impossible for the party to have so made up its mind and committed its resources to Hillary Clinton without serious rot. She has always had strong negatives in polling, always been (rightly) suspected concerning her honesty.

The Wiki-Leaks material tells us about many internal conflicts, including harsh high-level judgments of Hillary’s decision-making, resentment over the back-stabbing character of daughter Chelsea who is said to resemble Hillary in her behavior and attitudes, and the belief of some that Hillary just should not have run. And, frankly, she had become for many a rather tiresome, used-up figure from whom absolutely nothing spectacular in politics or policy could possibly be expected. But they not only blindly supported her, they broke all their own party rules by internally and secretly working to defeat a legitimate and viable contender, Bernie Sanders.

Sanders might well have been able to win the election for the Democrats, but their establishment was blind to the possibility and rejected his candidacy out-of-hand. After all, there were Bill and Hillary beckoning to their running well of money. In hindsight, it might be just as well that Sanders was cheated out of the nomination. He proved a weak individual in the end, giving in to just the forces he had claimed to oppose and leaving his enthusiastic followers completely let down. There he was, out on the hustings, supporting everything he ever opposed personified in Hillary Clinton. Men of that nature do not stand up well to Generals and Admirals and the heads of massive corporations, a quality which I do think we have some right to expect Trump to display.

Another important fact about the election is that it was less the triumph of Trump than the avoidance of Hillary that caused the defeat. The numbers are unmistakable. Yes, Trump did well for a political newcomer and a very controversial figure, but Hillary simply did badly, not approaching the support Obama achieved in key states, again something reflecting the documented fact that she is not a well-liked figure and the Party blundered badly in running her. But again, money talks, and the Clintons, particularly Bill, are the biggest fundraisers they have had in our lifetime. No one was ready to say no to the source of all that money.

Now, to many Americans, the election result must seem a bit like having experienced something of a revolution, although a revolution conducted through ballots, any other kind being literally impossible by design in this massive military-security state. In a way, it does represent something of a revolutionary event, owing to the fact that Trump the Oligarch is in his political views a bit of a revolutionary or at least a dissenter from the prevailing establishment views. And, as in any revolution, even a small one, there are going to be some unpleasant outcomes.

The historical truth of politics is that you never know from just what surprising source change may come. Lyndon Johnson, life-long crooked politician and the main author of the horrifying and pointless Vietnam War, did more for the rights of black Americans than any other modern president. Franklin Roosevelt, son of wealthy establishment figures, provided remarkable leadership in the Great Depression, restoring hopes and dreams for millions. Change, important change, never comes from establishments or institutions like political parties. It always comes from unusual people who seem to step out of their accustomed roles in life with some good or inspired ideas and have the drive and toughness to make them a reality.

I have some limited but important hopes for Trump. I am not blind or delirious expecting miracles from this unusual person, and after the experience of Obama, who fairly quickly proved a crushing, bloody disappointment, I can never build up substantial hopes for any politician. And what was the choice anyway? Hillary Clinton was a bought-and-paid one-way ticket to hell.

Trump offers two areas of some hope, and these both represent real change. The first is in reducing America’s close to out-of-control military aggressiveness abroad. This aggressiveness, reflecting momentum from what can only be called the Cheney-Rumsfeld Presidency, continued and grew under the weak and ineffectual leadership of Obama and was boosted and encouraged by Hillary as Secretary of State. Hillary, the feminists who weep for her should be reminded, did a lot of killing during her tenure. She along with Obama are literally responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of women and their families, many of them literally torn apart by bombs.

The other area of some hope is for the welfare of ordinary American people themselves who have been completely ignored by national leaders for decades. By welfare, I do not mean the kind of state assistance that Bill Clinton himself worked to end.

George Bush’s lame reaction to Hurricane Katrina (before he was internationally shamed into some action) has become the normal pattern for America’s national government when it comes to ordinary Americans. The truth is that the legacy of FDR has withered to nothing and no longer plays any role in the Democratic Party, and of course never did in the Republican Party.

Nothing can impress someone not familiar with America’s dark corners more than a visit to places like Detroit or Gary or Chicago’s South Side, parts of New Orleans, or Newark or dozens of other places where Americans live in conditions in every way comparable to Third World hellholes. No, I mean the people’s general well-being. Trump’s approach will be through jobs and creating incentives for jobs. I don’t know whether he can succeed, but, just as he asked people in some of his speeches, “What do you have to lose?” Just having someone in power who pays any attention to the “deplorables” is a small gain.

People should never think of the Clintons as liberal or progressive, and that was just as much true for Bill as it is for Hillary. His record as President – apart from his embarrassing behavior in the Oval Office with a young female intern and his recruitment of Secret Service guards as procurers for women he found attractive on his morning runs – was actually pretty appalling. He, in his own words, “ended welfare as we know it.” He signed legislation which would send large numbers of young black men to prison. He also signed legislation which contributed to the country’s later financial collapse under George Bush. He often would appoint someone decent and then quickly back off, leaving them dangling, when it looked like approval for the appointment would not be coming. His FBI conducted the assault on Waco, killing about eighty people needlessly. A pharmaceutical plant in Sudan was destroyed by cruise missiles for no good reason. There were a number of scandals, including the suicide of Vince Foster and the so-called Travelgate affair, which were never fully explained to the public. It was his Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who answered, unblinkingly, a television interviewer’s question about tens of thousands of Iraqi children who died owing to America’s embargo, “We think it’s worth it.” He committed the war crime of bombing Belgrade. When news of the horrors of the Rwanda genocide were first detected by his government, the order secretly went out to shut up about it. No effort was made to intervene.

No, any real change in America could never come from people like the Clintons, either one of them.

November 10, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump’s Election: ‘We May Have Just Dodged the Bullet on WWIII’

Sputnik | November 10, 2016

monteiro-2On Tuesday, voters in the US went to the polls to choose their next president, electing Republican Donald Trump. Speaking to Sputnik, Professor Tony Monteiro, peace activist and scholar at the department of African American Studies at Temple University, suggested that Trump’s election may have just saved the world from World War Three.

Calling Tuesday’s vote a “political insurrection,” Monteiro said that he was frankly surprised by “the depth and magnitude” of the popular revolt.

“I felt it was possible, [but] didn’t believe it was probable, given that the Clinton campaign had all of the resources…”

“It’s a situation where the pundits and the political experts had predicted based upon an old paradigm of viewing elections. And what we had is a new paradigm – a paradigm grounded in rage, anger and class resentment against an elite which never repaired the profound damage done to the American working people and the middle classes as a consequence of the Great Recession of 2007 and 2009.”

The academic explained that he frankly “just had no idea at how deep this was. And we saw it – it was a sweep. In fact, Donald Trump did to Hillary Clinton what the experts were saying she would do to him. It’s quite unbelievable – it’s a historic outcome. I think finally, that temporarily, the world has dodged the bullet of World War.”

“If Clinton had won, we would be on a fast track to war with Russia, either in the Baltics, Ukraine or in Syria. She made that perfectly clear.”

Trump, meanwhile, “had over the course of this election cycle said the very opposite. Many people thought that by coming out against war with Russia, he had disqualified himself. In fact he went so far as to attack the generals and those who are running foreign policy.”

Ultimately, the expert stressed that more than anything, this election was “a serious rebuke to the corporate media, who were all against Trump and for Hillary Clinton. Now in saying all of this… I don’t think Trump is a pure vessel… However, what is significant, and what we have to pay close attention to, is not Trump the individual, but that movement that made it possible for him to win the election.”

Monteiro suggested that consciously or not, this movement was animated by their class interest – based on popular anger over stagnant wages, and at the same time, trillions of dollars in offshore banks held by oligarchs, the transnational corporations and hedge funds.

“You’ve got all of these young people who are graduating from university, with tremendous debt, with no jobs that pay them enough to pay off their debt. And then of course Trump made a kind of heavy-handed and awkward appeal to the Black community – but there was some truth to it! When he said that the political forces that the Black community has aligned with has done very, very little for them. And he said to Black people ‘you have nothing to lose’. I think that in the Rust Belt, the former industrial mid-west, more Black people voted for Trump than we are aware of at this time.”

Taking office, Trump faces political, class and racial divisions of an almost unprecedented scale. “The nation is divided; it has not been this divided since the civil war in the 1860s.”

The difference this time, according to the analyst, “is that the divisions are not so much sectional, but are more economic and social class-[based].”

“Can he unite the country around a program of rebuilding the nation economically, and a policy of peace abroad? I’m not yet certain,” Monteiro stressed. But he was encouraged by Trump’s acceptance speech, where “he said that he was for cooperation with nations and finding common ground. I felt that the paramount issue in this election was the question of war and peace, even though it was not the major issue discussed in the corporate media. It was the paramount issue, because I am of the opinion that had Hillary Clinton won, she was going to fast-track belligerency and even war with Russia, and that could have spun out of control into a thermonuclear war.”

November 10, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

US sends largest ammo shipment in 20yrs to Germany amid ongoing European buildup

RT | November 10, 2016

The US military sent over 600 containers of ammunition to Europe, the largest single shipment in more than 20 years. The move comes just a week after the Pentagon announced the deployment of a 6,000-strong tank brigade to Eastern Europe next year.

Some 620 shipping containers packed with ammunition arrived at the northern German port of Nordenham at the end of October. There they were loaded onto trains and transported to the Miesau Army Depot for storage and distribution to other locations across Europe, the US Army said in a statement.

“This is about deterrence. We could have 1,000 tanks over here, but if we didn’t have the ammunition for them they would not have any deterrent effect,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of US Army Europe.

He added that German military and civilian staff have been helpful in moving the ammunition supplies to the Miesau depot, which was “only possible because our ally, Germany, allows it to happen.”

By enabling the movement of US Army ammunition and equipment through its territory, Germany is contributing to “deterrence,” Gen. Hodges said.

“We’re bringing ammunition into the theater to resupply and set the stage for the European theater for any type of exercises or potential future missions that may come about,” said Lt. Col. Brad Culligan, commander of the US Army’s 838th Transportation Battalion.

The shipment is yet another part of the massive military buildup taking place in Eastern Europe, where the US and NATO are developing military infrastructure and headquarters as well as building weapons and ammunition stockpiles to defend the region against what they describe as “Russian aggression.”

Earlier in November, the Pentagon announced deployment of two heavily-armed army units, the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (3rd ABCT) of the Colorado-based 4th Infantry Division as well as the New York-based 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, to Europe in January 2017.

Meanwhile, Gen. Hodges said in early October that he also wants to see anti-drone weapons systems in future arms deliveries to counter Russia, according to Military.com.

Those weapons systems would include the Avenger, a Humvee equipped with eight FIM-92 Stinger missiles, as well as the German-made Gepard, a twin-33mm cannon mounted on a Leopard tank chassis.

The US Army also plans to equip the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Europe with the new version of the M1126 Stryker infantry fighting vehicle armed with a more powerful 30mm cannon in May of 2018, according to the website.

Armaments aside, the buildup is also coupled with numerous exercises taking place in the Baltic states, Poland and in the Black Sea, with the stated goal of assuring Eastern European allies of NATO’s commitment to defending them.

Russia has consistently referred to the buildup as a provocative measure which undermines European security, promising to take reciprocal steps.

November 10, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 3 Comments

Donald Trump’s Victory: Prospects for Russia-US Relations

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 10.11.2016

Opportunities should not be squandered. It is especially important at a time when the overall political relationship between Washington and Moscow has tumbled to a nadir. Donald Trump’s victory and the expected drastic changes in US foreign policy open up new prospects for the improvement of bilateral relations.

It is useless to make predictions without the new president announcing who his foreign policy advisers will be. But it is possible to define in general terms what could and should be done to change the tide.

With arms control and non-proliferation in doldrums, the tensions over Ukraine, the standoff between Russia and NATO and the failure to cooperate efficiently in Syria, the mission seems to be more of a tall order, but it would be a great mistake to waste time.

The next president needs to accept that Moscow cannot simply be defeated or contained but it can be engaged through a comprehensive balance of cooperation and competition. Mr. Trump is savvy when it comes to the economy but in order to tackle the relationship with Russia he’ll have to go outside of his comfort zone as the divisions are mainly related to security issues. However, his business experience resulting in a pragmatic and business-like approach to foreign policy issues may be just exactly what is required to mark a new page in the Russia-US relationship.

Steps to prevent backsliding on nuclear disarmament must be taken during the Donald Trump’s tenure. This is a key issue to shape the global nuclear security landscape. Setting aside the existing differences over other issues to take the bull by the horn and achieve progress on strategic nuclear arms control regime is the only way to go about it.

The problem is aggravated by the fact that Russia and the US have not had meaningful negotiations on this issue for almost three years, much like it was in the days of the Cold War when there were no contacts to discuss it in the period from 1983 to 1985.

Currently, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) is in force. The treaty expires in February 2021, just three years after the parties are required to complete reductions in 2018. It can be prolonged for 5 years more if the parties agree. It remains unclear whether the United States and Russia can establish a new arms control regime.

If the two leading nuclear powers slide into a nuclear arms race, it will also adversely affect China’s interests and make it adjust its own nuclear policies – quite a headache for the new US commander-in-chief.

The future of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty – a landmark Cold War-era agreement – has become a very contentious issue. Time is running out. The INF is a pillar of European security, if it is weakened or discarded, the whole system will collapse. Russia says the Mk 41 vertical launching system for SM-3 missile interceptors based in Romania (and slated for deployment in Poland in 2018) is similar to those on US Navy ships and can launch cruise missiles. This is a flagrant violation of the treaty which bans the use of such launchers. There are other problems related to the compliance with the treaty as both sides blame each other for failure to abide by its provisions. Donald Trump will have to deal with this problem on his watch. For instance, the new administration could offer transparency measures regarding the vertical launch boxes allowing to verify if they really hold interceptors, not cruise missiles.

The agenda of the president-elect includes NATO deployments in Eastern Europe to make Russia consider stationing short-range missiles near its borders that could be used in both nuclear and conventional scenarios. This development would increase Russia’s emphasis on tactical nuclear weapons (TNW), sending the Russia-NATO security relationship into a downward cycle.

The ballistic missile defense (BMD) is a threat to global stability. No progress in other areas is achievable without coming to agreements on the BMD.

To begin with, the new administration could make some steps to make sure that BMD systems do not undermine Russia’s assured second-strike capability. The interceptors could be located in geographic areas to make the interception of Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) impossible. Radars could be redeployed not to provide substantial coverage of Russia. Anyway, the problem is too acute to be shelved. Donald Trump’s administration will have to deal with it one way or another.

The parties could launch regular discussions of the overall direction of ballistic missile programs, exchange intelligence and review developments assessing the missile threats and ways to counter them. Transparency is the best confidence building measure. US forward-deployed conventional strike assets with standoff range – boost-glide systems in particular – add to the problem.

It might be sensible to discuss the implications of conventionally armed cruise missiles for the strategic nuclear balance. Hypersonic missiles are very destabilizing weapons that should be covered by appropriate agreements. Some formal limitations would enhance security and mitigate the concerns of Russia, which feels threatened and has to respond.

If the problem of US conventional first strike superiority is not addressed – no agreement of tactical nuclear weapons is possible. Introducing limits is appropriate. The final goal in each and every case should be a formal binding agreement.

Military activities and conventional forces is another burning issue the Trump administration has to grapple with. Germany has recently come up with a proposal to start talks on a new Russia-NATO arms control agreement to comprise regional caps on armaments, transparency measures, rules covering new military technology such as drones, and the ability to control arms even in disputed territories.

Russia and the US could join together to convene a conference, presumably under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe with the full involvement of all relevant states.

With all the problems in existence and the proposed ways to tackle them, Russia and the US could scope out the issues and agree on how formal negotiations should be conducted.

Exploratory arms control discussions would help establish a useful venue for dialogue on other pressing problems. The agenda could be broadened to regional conflicts, with Ukraine and Syria discussed as separate issues. Enhancing the forums, like the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the NATO-Russia Council would be a step in the right direction. Achieving tangible progress on one issue could lead to positive results in other areas.

Donald Trump has said he is ready to ally with Russia in the fight against Islamic State. It could be a good start. The post-war crisis management is a key area where both countries could be allies as they are fighting the same enemy. International cooperation is crucial for success in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Russia and the United States leading the process would become a historic milestone to benefit all.

Cooperation in the Middle East and North Africa would change the Russia-West relationship for the better.

Lifting the anti-Russian sanctions so unpopular among US allies would greatly enhance the prospects for success. «Clearly the chances of sanctions being lifted on Russia have risen substantially», Charles Robertson, Renaissance Capital’s global chief economist, said. «That would improve the investment climate for Russia».

With the sanctions lifted, the parties could apply efforts to improve economic cooperation – the weak point of bilateral relationship. Actually, economy has never been high on the Russia-US agenda. Donald Trump is an experienced businessman, he could spur the process.

The president-elect is the right person to turn the tide in the Russia-US relations because he is independently minded and not tied to Washington’s establishment. He can avoid specific bureaucratic pitfalls and keep neocons and liberal hawks from positions of power something his predecessor has failed to do. As the presidential race has showed, he can see a problem from the other side’s perspective. What if Russia deployed forces and BMD installations near the US borders? He has imagination to understand such things. Donald Trump seems to possess the needed leadership traits to stand up to pressure and do things his way. His election victory is an opportunity not to miss. Normalizing relations with Russia will be a great foreign policy success – a historic legacy to make him go down in history as a great president.

November 10, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Donald Trump won the election… so what now?

By Kit | OffGuardian | November 10, 2016

In the wake of the shocking result of the US Presidential election, we take a look at some of the key questions left up in the air. How did things go so wrong for Hillary Clinton? How will the world look when the dust has settled? Is this really a sign of any kind of change?

Question 1: What the hell just happened?

Most people, most pundits most media outlets were predicting a Clinton victory. The pundits and reporters, because Hillary was “qualified” and “competent”. Everyone else…because she could follow Obama’s example and mobilise the virtue-signalling vote, and even if she didn’t it would just be rigged. As the primaries evidently were.

The vast majority of the media were behind Clinton. The banks were too. As was Wall Street, big pharma, arms manufacturers, senior figures from both major political parties and (seemingly, anyway) the military and intelligence services. How could that much collective clout possibly fail to pull out the W? How did they let this happen?

You are left with three possibilities.

1, elections aren’t rigged. Simply put, all the weight behind Clinton could only exercise legitimate and transparent power. They could give interviews, write opinion pieces and campaign…and that’s all. They fought hard, and they lost. Fair and square. Given what we know about 2000, 2004 and the democratic primaries this seems unlikely.

2, elections can be controlled, but only in a limited fashion. This was talked about at length following the Brexit vote (which many people have suggested was nothing like as close as the “official figures” made it look). This idea posits that numbers can be manipulated, but not controlled. You can fudge them up and down, but full-on fakery leaves too much evidence, or is simply too difficult. It’s possible that Clinton was just SO mistrusted, SO hated, SO incredibly unpopular, that even with the collective might of 90% of the political and media establishment behind her… they just couldn’t swing the vote. This is plausible, especially if you paid attention to the crowd sizes at their respective rallies.

[Note: These situations both come with the rider that, much like sports, it may only be possible to rig an election if both sides are willing to cooperate. Maybe Trump wouldn’t let it slide the way Al Gore or Bernie Sanders were happy to do.]

3, somebody changed sides. Maybe the election was rigged, but in the other direction. Maybe the sudden, unexpected reopening of the e-mail investigation was a deliberate ploy by the FBI (and others, behind the scenes) to swing public opinion against Hillary. Maybe the rumors of immediate impeachment should Hillary win, and of possible ties to paedophiles and human trafficking, were the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s possible that an establishment already creaking alarmingly under the weight of Clinton’s baggage, decided Clinton was now simply too much trouble. And that it might be easier to chance their arm on a man who might be willing to play ball, and was less likely to throw up a constitutional crisis and/or suddenly drop dead.

It’s recently become obvious, given the flip-flopping over Ukraine and Syria, that the American political establishment is far from a monolith of drive and purpose. There are internal divisions. There are factions. Trying to distill any kind of rational plan from their resulting actions is like trying to follow the score in a game of Rugby where four teams are playing at once, and they’re all wearing the same uniform.

Question 2: Will Trump Be Allowed to take office?

Just as happened following the Brexit vote (and to a lesser extent Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader), already this result has sprouted protest movements, petitions and articles either directly challenging its legitimacy, or simply questioning the “democratic value” of the American electoral system.

As the results were coming in last night, I personally witnessed tweets suggesting Obama should refuse to relinquish his office to Trump. Protest marches have already been held in many cities across America. If these protests escalate to riots, or street battles, Obama could declare a state of emergency which “delays” the swearing-in of the new president, Trump supporters would see this (rightly) as a possible coup attempt, leading to further violent unrest and the declaration of martial law. Extreme, but not impossible. Any move to replace Trump before he’s even in office would be totally unprecedented and grossly unconstitutional. But so was Gitmo.

Before the vote was held, the democrats were fervently and hysterically blaming the Russians for “interfering” with the election, baseless rumors which the media eagerly and unquestioningly repeated. You could argue this was done to preemptively defend themselves in the event of a Trump win. Undermining the result before there even was one. The Russian “hacks” are cited as the main cause behind this petition, calling for an overthrow of a Trump government, on the grounds he stole the election. This issue could be picked up more widely in the media in the coming days.

The long, long, long delay before Hillary finally appeared to make her concession speech makes one wonder if, behind the scenes, there may have been wheels turning. Think tanks furiously going over the options and outcomes should Clinton simply refuse to concede the election and publicly call into question the fairness of the vote. In the end, what would have finally sunk that possibility is the pompous way Clinton’s team responded to Trump’s own suggestion there may be vote rigging. To turn around and “disrespect our democracy” after she lost would have laid Clinton open to justified claims of hypocrisy.

There are more old fashioned methods of removing an unwanted president, of course. It’s very telling that “assassination” was shooting up the google search ranks as the results were announced last night. And America has never been short a lone wolf assassin when it really, really needed one.

Question 3: What sort of man is Donald Trump?

It’s tempting, at moments such as this, to blindly and joyfully accept outcome as a win for good guys. I’m not going to deny I was, more than anything, relieved when I saw the result. The possibility of a psychopathic war hawk pushing for a war with Russia, with the full weight of a self-deluded middle-class high on their own moral outrage behind her, was terrifying. But not so long ago Barack Obama was… for want of a better phrase…the great white hope. He was going to change things…but didn’t. In the end he was simply an Orwellian controlled alternative. It’s possible that’s all Trump is, too.

It’s possible Trump is just a pompous windbag who would say or do anything to get into power, simply for the sake of having power. It’s possible he’s an elaborate ploy designed to satiate an angry public thirsty for real change, and buy the oligarch elite more time to milk us dry or blow us all up for some crazy reasons of their own. Both plausible, but let’s put them aside for now.

Let’s say that Trump is sincere in his goals, and let’s say he is allowed to take office and try to introduce his policies – both big ifs, but still. How much institutional and bureaucratic resistance will he encounter? How many threats and extortions will he face? Does he have the strength of character to face down that opposition? Very few people do. Most politicians sell their souls for power, or resign themselves to impotence. It takes an extraordinary person to keep a hold of themselves and their ideals, in a political environment double loaded with both temptation and threat.

All through the election cycle the democrats were far more interested in talking about punch lines, snappy quotes and identity politics than discussing policy. That’s because any real discussion of policies would only push a lot of people into voting for Trump. He want’s to cut-out hostilities with Russia and cooperate in combating terrorism. He wants to slash defense spending and rebuild industry. He wants to pull American bases out of Japan, Germany, South Korea and others, and relinquish America’s self-styled title of “World Policeman”. He wants to stop corporations from employing illegal immigrants to get around paying minimum wage. He has posited leaving NATO.

These are all, on the face of it, reasonable policies that could bring America back from the brink. And they are all, on their own, potentially career ending for any other politician in the Western world.

Will he ever be allowed to enact a single one of them? I guess we’ll see.

November 10, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Steelworkers urge EU protection against imports

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Press TV – November 9, 2016

Steelworkers from across the European Union have held a protest in front of the EU headquarters in Brussels to demand protection, as cheap foreign import mostly from China keeps threatening job security in the industry.

The protesters on Wednesday urged the EU to impose tough restrictions on steel imports from China and adopt better regulations for the market.

Reports said at least 5,000 people from various EU countries attended the demonstration.

Recent studies show that an estimated 330,000 people are working in Europe’s steel factories, the lowest in the history of the industry in the continent. That comes as many think Europe owes its industrial revolution to the boom in steel production.

The European Union has moved to adopt policies that could prevent the import of cheap products to its market. The aim is to cut the flow of steel from China, which has swamped the European markets at dumping prices.

Luc Triangle, the general secretary of Industrial Europe union, said the EU must do more to ensure the rights of the steelworkers were protected.

“You cannot throw workers in the arena of globalization without any protection,” Triangle added.

EU Competitiveness Commissioner Jyrki Katainen said the policies were meant to create a fair competition in the European steel market, noting, “Free trade must be fair, and only fair trade can be free.”

Workers have already staged mass protests in developed EU countries such as Germany, saying the widening trend of cheap imports from China and a global oversupply of the product have already created many uncertainties about the prospects of the industry.

About 50,000 steel workers attended such rallies in three German cities, including the capital Berlin, in April, denouncing the EU’s unfair environmental regulations.

November 10, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment